In baseball, the rule is, three strikes and you’re out. If that rule held in politics, the Republican party would now be permanently consigned to the role of minority party. At least, that’s the way I see it.
Strike one on team GOP came with their selection of George W. Bush as their leader. Bush the younger turned out to be no better than the fifth-worst president of the United States, and represented a wasted opportunity to build a conservative dynasty.
It was Bush’s cowboy style, reckless actions and intellectually bankrupt policies—both domestic and foreign—that set America on its downward spiral, and which now threaten its once unassailable pre-eminence in virtually all categories of human achievement.
Strike two: picking Senator John McCain as its candidate to replace the failed presidency of George W. Bush. Sen. McCain, a wile veteran politician, was well past his best years and on the down slope of his career when he was nominated by the GOP—the party that never compromises—as a compromise candidate.
Sen. McCain compounded the error of his party by insulting the American voters when he selected, as his running mate, then governor Sarah Palin—a neophyte politician, who was otherwise unsuitable to be a heartbeat of a 72-year-old away from the office of president and commander in chief. Result: Barak Obama defeated Sen. McCain in the 2008 presidential election, winning with a 365–173 electoral college vote margin and a 53 per cent to 46 per cent popular vote edge. Even McCain’s campaign strategist John Weaver later denounced Gov. Palin for being “petty and pathetic” for sections of her post-campaign book, Going Rogue: An American Life.
Strike three: the GOP allowing the Tea Party to gain such influence over its candidate selection process, spoiling Republican chances of taking control of the Senate. Richard Cowan, in a Nov. 8 piece for Reuters, writes:
The ground is strewn with the bodies of failed Tea Party candidates in states where Democrats otherwise would have been sent to their own political graves: Todd Akin in Missouri and Richard Mourdock in Indiana in 2012; Sharron Angle in Nevada and Christine O’Donnell in Delaware in 2010, to name a few.
“Meanwhile, in the House of Representatives, the head of the Tea Party Caucus—Michelle Bachmann—appears to have just barely dodged defeat on Tuesday, while colleagues including Allen West and Joe Walsh were not as fortunate.”
While the Tea Party may have the high ground on issues like smaller government, budget deficits and federal debt, it’s out of step with the majority of American voters when it comes to social issues like abortion and immigration. It’s a mystery to me how any adult politician could co-join terms like “legitimate” and “rape” as Republican senate hopeful Todd Akin did last summer, or give voice in public to silliness like that of another Republican senate candidate Richard Mourdock’s nonsense about pregnancy from rape being “something that God intended.”
One wonders how many chances a political party deserves before being seen as irrelevant. Canadians never did give the now defunct federal Progressive Conservative party a second chance after it was reduced to just two seats in 1993. That party limped through a couple more elections before being absorbed by the Reform/Canadian Alliance and is now—except by a few diehards—largely forgotten.
There really is no parallel in the U.S. to our federal PCs, of course, but there is more than one route to political irrelevance.
The GOP, thankfully, is not in need of much more than a tweaking of social policies and a reorientation towards the new reality of American demographics. That and some common-sense flexibility on fiscal/tax issues and they could very well rise again to take the White House in 2016.
Here’s one conservative hoping the Grand Old Party is up to the challenge.